Scanner / Pan sonic / FM Einheit

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London - 4 May, 2000

"This collaboration was powerful and overwhelming"

Sonic Boom is an exhibition at the South Bank arts complex in London which intends to "examine electronic soundscape music in a post-rave, post-techno context" so it was appropriate enough that the live show featuring musicians who contributed sound installations to this exhibit were showcased not in a rock/rave style venue but in this fully seated concert hall.

FM Einheit / Pan sonic

I  turned up late for the show, typically late enough to miss Project Dark's short set and my companion and I were ushered in by torch-wielding staff to an environment of almost total darkness. The only sources of light in the large bunker-like concrete-and-steel modernist hall were some dim blue lights shining on the musicians and the mother of all video projectors shining a harsh monochrome waveform representing the sound onto a screen behind them. Pan sonic were on the left of the stage, two guys and a lot of patch leads twiddling some knobs and knocking out harsh distorted bass lines. FM Einheit, known amongst other things for his work as part of Industrial "godfathers" Einsturzende Neubauten, was in the middle. A large sheet of metal was streached across between two barriers of the type used for constructing makeshift fences at outdoor events. This sheet of metal was abused by Einheit in various ways, his favourite being to cut and scrape at it with a saw. A guitarist completed the picture: no rock riffs here, only feedback, artificial harmonics and other abuses of the instrument.

At one point some smoke was noticed drifting out from the region of one of Pan sonic's monitor's. Soon the smell of fried electronic components became aparrent though people remained silent, perhaps suspecting the smoke was theatrical. But no! One of the sound engineers got up from his desk at the front and pulled the lead out of the thing! "Pan sonic and Einheit killed my monitor!"

This collaboration was powerful and overwhelming to the point that a few people couldn't handle it and started leaving before the full hour was up. I decided to prove that I was Strong In Mind And Spirit so endured the whole thing and I have to tell you when I got out of the arena into the foyer during the intermission I let out a few deep breaths! I have heard people criticise that particular performance saying Pan sonic were drowned out. I wouldn't go so far as to agree with that, I think it had to do with the fact that the sound system, though certainly of high quality, didn't have the sub-bass capability to give the full effect of Pan sonic's low frequency abuse. I guess one has to consider this is a concert hall, not a club. The crowd at this gig was interesting. There were many of the usual South Bank "art-erati" (I recall telling one of them to shut up and show some respect because he was heckling the artists.... you read the blurb mate, don't complain when they deliver the goods) as well as Gothic-looking and dreadlocked industrial avant-gardists. There were a few of the DJs from Slimelight, who handed out flyers at the end of the night, as did the crews from Hinouema and Rective, London's two sit-down avant-garde industri-noise clubs. Nice to see such a diverse crowd out. No Cyberdog-clad types though (though I would have loved to have fed one of them five E's and 250mgs of base, sit them down and watch their brains fry and their smiles drop to a look of total fear hahaha)!


After the intermission, Scanner was on. Just one guy and his laptop and a notebook mixer, but he put on a good show. Less nasty than the previous performers but by no means less interesting, Scanner was putting out more of an Intellegent Ambient vibe (and I stress I use the term "ambient" carefully, taking care to disassociate it from the type of thing listened to by pilled-up wankers in embroidered waistcoats), more soundscapes than noise assault but still with a little bit of a hard edge: not hippy jazz music. So all in all I think it's safe to say this was a good part of a resurgence of experimental/leftfield "industrial" in the Metropolis, proving that not everyone has got bored and got into Synthpop or Trance.

chemical marzipan the crystalline entity